Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Curried Ox Cheeks, Jamaica. Olympic Food Challenge

Our Father, who art in Calgary, Bobsled be thy name. Thy kingdom come, gold medals won, on Earth as it is in Turn Seven. With Liberty and Justice for Jamaica and Haile Selassie. Amen.

Jamaica baby!!

The 5th largest island of the Caribbean Sea. Home of the fastest man on earth and the world famous bobsled team which I will stop going on about at some point. A member of the Commonwealth and under the rule of Our Liz. A member of IOC since 1936, they don't have the greatest medal record but would you put your money on them not leaving London 2012 with at least 2 golds this time?

This dish was easy to find, I was sent a recipe by Mr @joolscyprien ages ago for a Jamaican mutton curry, so what better time to give it ago. Instead of mutton I used Ox Cheeks as an approved substitute and look at the size of them, very cheap too, only cost me about 4-5 quid for the pair if I remember correctly.

Jamaican Ox cheek Curry
2k mutton or other meat such as Ox cheeks 
 2 x Large Onions finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic crushed
1 x small thumb sized piece of ginger
3-4 spring onions finely sliced
1 - 2 teaspoons of all spice
A few sprigs of thyme leaves chopped
2-3 tbsp curry powder 

1 can of coconut milk
250ml chicken stock
1 tbsp curry powder
1 scotch bonnet chilli
Salt pepper to taste
Sprig of thyme 

Combine the meat and all the ingredients down to the coconut milk in a large bowl and marinate for 24 hours.
Take a large casserole pan and place over a medium heat add a good glug of olive or rapeseed oil then add the tbsp of curry powder and gently fry until dark but not burned. 
Add the marinated meat and turn up the heat slightly make sure all the meat is browned.
Add the coconut milk and stock and stir to combine finally add the scotch bonnet and bring up to the boil. Turn down and gently cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours until meat is nice and tender the longer the better. Season to taste and remove scotch bonnet and thyme stalks.
Serve with steamed rice or rice and peas.

Make that 3 Gold medals, sensational. Not the nicest looking food stuff in the world but what it lacks in appearance it more than makes up for in flavour. Cook for as long as possible, I simmered for four hours and the meat just melted, beautiful. Good luck with removing the scotch bonnet afterwards though, mine disintegrated and is equivalent to putting a nuclear rod in there, its all good though.


Monday, 30 July 2012

Kuku Paka & Ugali, Kenya. Olympic Food Challenge

So from one of the lesser known African countries to one of its best known, Kenya.
Member of the IOC since 1955, they usually do fairly well in the games, only failing to get a gold in 1964. They are the current World Record holders in the 800m since 2010.

The recipe I found for this country is a popular Kenyan-Indian Dish called Kuku (chicken) Paka (coconut) and a popular Kenyan side dish called Ugali which uses cornmeal/polenta something I've never used and was keen to give it a try.

Kuku Paku

8 Chicken thighs, skinned
1 Onion, chopped
2 - 3 Hot chile peppers, chopped 
2 tbsp Ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
good splash of Oil or ghee
1 tbsp Curry powder
2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tin of Chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
1 tin of Coconut milk
Salt and pepper
handful of Coriander, chopped 

Add the onion, chiles, ginger and garlic to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a little water if necessary.
Heat the oil or ghee in a large pot or wok over medium flame. 
Add the onion puree, curry powder and cumin and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until cooked down.
Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. 
Add the chicken, coconut milk, salt and pepper. 
Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. 
Add more water if needed.
Sprinkle over coriander and serve.

300ml water
1 tsp salt
150ml fine cornmeal/polenta

Bring the salt and water to the boil in a saucepan.
Sprinkle in the cornmeal and reduce the heat
Stir well, mashing out any lumps and heat until the mixture draws away from the sides.
Remove from heat and allow to cool a little bit.
Wet your hands and shape the cornmeal into a ball.

Deeeeeeeeelicious. thick rich curry sauce, an excellent combination of slight sweetness, spice and chilli heat. soft tender chicken. A really superb curry. The ugali was an excellent accompiment with its soft texture, I will be using this stuff again. I served this also with the Eritrean flatbreads

Flatbreads, Eritrea, Olympic Food Challenge

One of the good things about this Olympic Food Challenge is the discovery of countries you didn't know existed. Eritrea, for me, is one of them

Eritrea is a little country located on the Horn of Africa. they have only been part of the IOC since 1999 and have one Olympic bronze medal to their name, although strangely for a country almost on the equator they have a Gold and a Bronze at the Winter Olympics.

Finding a recipe for this country was quite tricky, however I did stumble across this recipe for Traditional Eritrean Flatbreads.
The recipe stated to shape the dough into flatbreads big enough for a frying pan, I decided to just make little ones instead and reduced the stated cooking time

Traditional Eritrean Flatbreads.
300ml lukewarm water
25g fresh yeast (I used a packet of dried yeast)
1tsp ground fenugreek seeds
1/2tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp oil
225g plain flour
225g wholemeal flour

(if using) Dissolve the fresh yeast in the water and set aside.
Mix the egg, oil, spices and garlic together
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and  (if using) add the dried yeast.
Add the egg mixture and the water and mix together to form a dough
Knead for 5-10 minutes
Place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled.
Knock back and knead again for a few minutes
shape the dough into flatbreads so they will just fit in a frying pan.
Allow to rise again.
Fry gently for about 10 minutes then flip over and fry the other side for 5 minutes.
Brush with melted butter and serve.

A very light and delicately spiced flatbread, a good alternative accompaniment to a curry or just eaten warm on its own with lots of butter

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Caldo De Peixe, Cape Verde. Olympic Food Challenge

Here it is, the damp squib of the Olympics, the one that didn't quite make it.

Tonight's country of the Olympic Food Challenge was Cape Verde an archipelago of 10 islands of the west coast of Africa. member of the IOC since its recognition in 1993 and without a single medal to it's name so far.

The recipe I found for this country was an interesting sounding fish soup, Caldo De Peixe.

Unfortunately it's taste didn't quite meet up to it's expectation.

I halved the recipe (this version below, double for the original) because of the vast quantities it would make for the two of us, I also substituted Cod for the more environmentally friendly (and cheaper) Coley, other than that I went ahead with the recipe as stated:

Caldo De Peixe
 3 white potatoes, chopped
1.5 sweet potatoes, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1.5 lbs saltwater fish (such as tautog, cod, bluefish or sea bass) I used Coley

In a medium pan, boil both white and sweet potatoes, about 15 minutes.
In a large pan, gently saute chopped onions,red and green peppers and tomatoes in oil.
Next add fish cut into small pieces to the large pan and saute.
Add partly cooked white and sweet potatoes, along with enough cooking water to simmer the soup.
Simmer until potatoes and fish are done.
Add chopped parsley and chopped spring onions to the pan.

There is no denying this dish would be good for those on a diet, plenty of veg, fish, and almost no fat. however it lacked flavour, a kick, something to make it bloody good. Why does my mind keep imagining cream? A shame really but never mind that's the joy of this challenge, to try a new something new from around the world. 17 to go.... 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Rougallie Poisson Sale, Mauritius - Olympic Food Challenge

 aaaaand we are off......

As London and Great Britain gears up for the greatest show on earth, 12 superhero bloggers are taking on the world....
From 204 countries over 19 days, 12 bloggers will eat a dish from all nations.

Tonight I kicked things off on my own little corner of the Internet with Mauritius, the home of the Dodo before it was scoffed to extinction.

Mauritius is a small island off the southeast coast of Africa in the southwest Indian Ocean. the Island was under UK Rule from 1810 when we pinched it off the French and remained so until 1968 when it gained independence. Its main export is Sugar.

They have only won one medal in the olympics, a bronze in Beijing 2008. 

There were a variety of recipes I found for this particular country but this one in particular stood out mainly because I had never cooked with Salt fish before and wanted to see what it was like.

The recipe calls for a lot of fresh tomatoes which is perfect for the time of year as its tomato season, don't go buying those tasteless salad tomatoes in the supermarket.

Rougallie Poisson Sale (Salt fish in Tomato Sauce)

200g salted fish cut into cubes (2-3 cm)
10 chopped tomatoes
1 green chilli 
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
2 tablespoon finely chopped curry leaves
1 finely chopped large onion
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon ginger paste
4 tablespoon oil

Soak the shredded salted fish in hot water forabout half n hour
After the soaking period, pat dry the fish with a paper towel
Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the fish on medium flame till golden brown
Remove the fish and set aside on a paper towel
In the remaining oil, add the onions and fry till it becomes light brown
Add thyme, curry leaves, parsley and green chilli and continue to fry for a further 2 minutes
Add the garlic and ginger pastes followed by the chopped tomatoes
Simmer until the tomatoes break down and create a nice sauce
Add the fried fish and let it simmer for a further 5 minutes
Sprinkle the coriander leaves and remove from the heat

Off to a flying start with this beauty. The perfect summer dish, Light and full of delicious tomato flavour, the salt fish provides a nice, slightly chewy texture and the salt compliments the tomato well. I served it simply with white rice but a nice crusty bread dunked in would be good as well.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Mars Bar Cake - A Tea Time Treat

 This months tea time treats challenge hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage (and also Kate at What Kate Baked on alternate months), is to make some variety of baked good suitable for a cake stall at a summer fete. Yes Summer, you know that season that is supposed to turn up around now so we can all get merry off Pimms and suffer from severe food poisoning from risking that 'last burger'. But no, instead I'm making a bake for a summer fete and its raining outside, RAINING!!! IN JULY!!!


anyway...what to make? well this was not a difficult challenge in the slightest for me and there was only one option.

Mars Bar cake

Oh yeah! Not technically a cake, more of a pimped up chocolate crispy thingy.

This was made for me way back when I was a youngster and we had to take something in for school bake sales, It usually sold out in minutes which was quite annoying, mainly because I wanted it. It is one of my personal favourites and takes me straight back to my younger days at the mere thought of it.

This recipe takes minutes to make and most of the time is spent waiting for it set in the fridge. The chocolate on top is optional and it works very well with or without...well I say optional, It's not really is it, put the chocolate on top you know you want to.

Mars Bar Cake
3 - 4 normal mars bars or 6-7 snacksize
100g butter
2 tbsp golden Syrup
200g Rice Crispies
150g Milk chocolate

Chop up the mars bars and melt gently in a large pan with the syrup and butter.
Stir in the rice crispies about 50g at a time until well combined and coated.
Add to a lined container of your choice, I used a square cake tin but a baking tray about and inch deep will work fine.
Place in the fridge for about an hour to set
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Pour over the cake and place back in the fridge to set, about half an hour this time.

Slice up, serve and enjoy.

Monday, 9 July 2012

French Toast

I toyed with blogging this, I thought that there would be no need to blog something as simple as this but then some of the tastiest things are simple and can be made in a minute or two so why not.

This is the second breakfast post, see the first here. The reason for this is that my Year 11's are doing a breakfast module and this week they are cooking something a little different from the usual cereal or toast.

The joy of french toast is that it can switch from sweet or savoury depending on your mood. Drown it in beans, throw a few rashers of bacon and some good sausages on there or do like I did and chop up a banana and sprinkle with icing sugar. simple yet tasty.

Few tips:
Buy cheap thick white bread, forget your artisan sourdoughs, you need the cheap stuff to soak up all the eggy goodness.
Buy good eggs though, free range or you could half inch them from a friendly collegue like I did.

2 Slices of thick white bread
2 eggs
Splash of milk

Beat the eggs in a bowl and soak the bread until nice and soggy.
Heat a frying pan with a little bit of butter, once sizzling add the egg soaked bread.
Cook for a minute or so on each side until it is done to your liking.

Cover with your toppings and enjoy.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Drop scones, Dropped scones, Scotch pancakes...

...whatever you like to call them they are very easy to make and very very simple. In honour of my impending visit to the scottish capital and with some tennis tournament finishing today, who's playing again? I decided to crack out the frying pan (sorry traditionalists, I don't have a griddle/girdle) and make a very tasty sunday breakfast (again sorry traditionalists, I'm hungry and not waiting until teatime) with some left over english strawberries and a delicious Scottish heather honey.

Ingredients (makes about 10)
80g SR Flour
20g Caster Sugar
1/2tsp Baking powder
1 small egg
100ml milk

Weigh out the flour, sugar and baking powder into a bowl
Make a well in the centre and crack the egg into it.
Add half the milk and whisk well.
Add the remaining milk a bit at a time until it reseambles thick cream.
Heat a frying pan or griddle pan and lightly grease with oil.
Add a tablespoon of mix and spread gently around, not to thinly.
Once bubbles appear in the top then flip over and cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
Repeat until all mixture is used up.

Smother with toppings and enjoy.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

My Cookbooks and Kitchen - A Random Recipe for Chaos

This months Random Recipe Challenge at Belleau Kitchen was to cook a photo of our cookbooks/kitchens.....hang on... what? take a photo? no cooking involved this month?

*breaks out into a mild panic*


*downs a cup of tea*

OK I'm good.

The actual challenge is to take a photo of where we store our collection of cookbooks in order for our readers to get an insight into the lives and homes of the bloggers that produce the vast amount of lovely posts.

The Main Book Shelf

This is the main location for my collection and consists of a few other items as well as cookbooks. The whisky is purely for cooking.....honestly....ahem moving on.
The little trinkets are a couple of /birthday/Christmas presents and the certificate is one I worked very hard to achieve and is one of the items I'd grab if the place was burning down.

The coffee table.
Here lies the coffee table books, namely the ones that are too big for the bookshelf, these are The Fat Duck Cookbook  and the stunning Thai Street Food by David Thompson. Underneath is my collection of food mags in a shoebox and the surrounding areas where I have collected slightly too many.

The engine room

Here is my kitchen where the magic chaos reigns supreme. I have only had this kitchen for a year and it is three times the size of the one I had previously (ah the joys of rented accommodation). Usually the place is a bombsite, cleaning up is not my strong point.

So there you have it, my food world, make yourself at home.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Lemon and Ginger squidgy cake

 I'm back baaaaby, Yeeeeee aaaahhhh.

 OK technically I never left, I'm referring of course to my baking mojo which took a beating in the last random recipe challenge with a poor effort of a cake.

To return to form, I had a scour around for something very tasty to make and stumbled on this lovely recipe in one of those little magazines you get alongside Good Food Magazine that usually (for me anyway) get shoved in a drawer somewhere never to see the light of day again.

Lemon and ginger are a superb combination and in this cake they are complimented perfectly by the chewy texture of the dates and the very slight crunch of the apple pieces....

Lemon and Ginger Squidgy Cake
200g dates, stoned
200g butter
300g dark muscavado sugar
2 Eggs
50g Ginger, grated
grated zest of a lemon
200g SR Flour
1 Bramley Apple, peeled and chopped into pea sized pieces
50g White chocolate

Preheat oven to 160C/140C (fan)
Butter and line a deep 20cm cake tin.
Cover the dates with boiling water and set aside.
Heat the butter in a pan and stir in the sugar when melted, allow to cool slightly.
Beat in the eggs, ginger and lemon.
Drain the dates and chop finely.
Add the dates to the batter and mix well.
Stir in the flour and apple and mix in well.
Spoon into the tin and place the tin on a metal baking sheet.
Bake for about 1 h 15 mins until a skewer can be removed clean.
Leave to cool in the tin.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water and then drizzle over the cake.

Serve and Enjoy.